Slouching: The Postural Kyphosis

Slouching: The Postural Kyphosis

What Is A Kyphosis?

A kyphosis when viewing the spine from side on refers to the outward curvature of the spine, the convex curve of the back. Inward and outward curves of the spine are normal and desirable as the work to balance the head and distribute load evenly throughout the spine. These curves are easily viewed when examining the spine from side on. From this point on when referring to a kyphosis in the following text, it will be discussing it as an “abnormal” kyphosis, abnormal in the sense of it being exaggerated, exaggerated beyond population normal’s.  A postural kyphosis refers to one of the possible causes of an exaggerated kyphosis of the spine, in this situation the larger curve is postural rather than structural.

A Postural Kyphosis Is The Most Common Type Of Kyphosis

A postural kyphosis is the most common form of kyphosis. This type of kyphosis can occur in both young and old and can be corrected with a conscientious effort to maintain erect posture, basically working to not “slouch”. With a postural kyphosis there is no structural abnormality of the spine leading to the presence of a kyhposis. Therefore training and exercises to assist in strengthening the trunk, specifically the back and scapular muscles can help the individual maintain more “normal” alignment. Slouching in the mid back and the associated rounded shoulders is a very common postural complaint, in my Randwick and Sydney physio practices we see it on a regular basis. Often it is concerned parents bringing in their adolescent children having noticed their shoulders rolling forward more and more over the years. Particularly I find that a postural kyphosis is very common among adolescent females, associated with a significant growth spurt and/or early development of breasts during puberty relative to their piers and a desire not to stand out in a crowd they may hunch forward a little attempting to conceal their height, or body changes. Adjustments that over months can become a habit that is hard to break. Have a centrally located city physio practice we also see a lot of office based working professionals who come in with evidence of a postural kyphosis. Often this population of patients present with neck pain and the postural kyphosis is one of the triggers for the neck pain due to the increased curve in their mid back altering their head position and therefore placing extra strain on their cervical spine. Office worker and adolescent girls alike the presence of a postural kyphoisis ideally is a relatively easy fix assuming the individual themselves is will to put in the work to change. As regardless this condition benefits greatly from muscle strengthening and postural retraining.

Other Types Of Kyphosis

There are a number of other causes of kyphosis of the thoracic spine including, but not limited to:

  • Structural kyphosis
  • Scheuermann’s Disease
  • Traumatic kyphosis
  • Osteoporosis-related kyphosis

Your physio can help asses and inform if you have a postural kyphosis and what would be the best approach to initiate change.

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic provides this information as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance on Slouching: The Postural Kyphosis should consult his or her physiotherapist, general practitioner or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.